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Start of linked paragraph and character styles in Writer

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Writer now has the start of linked character and paragraph styles. This improves DOCX compatibility, extends ODT and it’ll improve the style previews and the UI in the future, hopefully.

First, thanks Docmosis who made this work by Collabora possible.


Word allows linking paragraph and character styles together, which means only the paragraph one will be present on the UI. Such a split has benefits if you customize the character properties on the UI and later you want to update the paragraph properties from a template, for example.

This is frequent markup in DOCX files, because Word defaults to splitting out the character properties of a Test paragraph style into a Test Char character style on editing.

Saving the document in Writer and then viewing it in Word lead to loosing these links, so their style pickers started to show unwanted Test Char rows.

Results so far

We used to preserve such linking information when doing DOCX → DOCX conversion for a while, since about 2013. But such preservation was in-memory, so if you saved the document to ODT, then such information was lost. This approach also lacked a real document model, which is necessary to incrementally build this feature into a complete solution.

Here is how the style picker in Word looks like now, after a DOCX → ODT → DOCX pipeline:
Figure 1. Word’s style picker, new output: no unwanted additional character styles

Here is how this used to look like before the new changes (note the Heading 1 Char line between Heading and Index):
Figure 2. Word’s style picker, old output: unwanted additional character styles

And here is how the input document looks like:
Figure 3. Word’s style picker, reference output: no unwanted additional character styles

How is this implemented?

If you would like to know a bit more about how this works, continue reading… :-)

Just to set expectations, this is currently an invisible feature, but unlike the old approach from 8 years ago, this one can be extended into a full feature, incrementally. It also survives ODT roundtrips.

Want to start using this?

Collabora intends to continue supporting and contributing to LibreOffice, the code is merged so we expect all of this work will be available in TDF’s next release (7.3).

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